I've been using nVidia cards in Ubuntu boxes for years. The closed source drivers have been great and I've even found my way around the nvidia-settings program when I've needed to. I'm now in the market for a new graphics card. Is there (at present) any reason to entertain switching to an ATI card?

  • Does not matter, just check the compatibility list before you buy. wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupportComponentsVideoCards and also free3d.org
    – Panther
    Dec 26, 2011 at 22:32
  • @bodhi.zazen: That sounds like a good answer to me. Please feel free to submit it as such.
    – SMTF
    Dec 26, 2011 at 23:05
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    Having an HD5870 card has been a non-stop pain in the butt. I'm looking at getting an new generation Nvidia card but I'd rather get some advice before shelling out £500. As far as I'm concerned, the ATI card needs smashing with a hammer. I can either use the propriety drivers for 3D but loose all desktop stability or use the non-propriety drivers and loose 3D. ATI driver support is ppor, but are Nvidia better? Jul 14, 2012 at 18:30

5 Answers 5


Does not matter, just check the compatibility list before you buy (both make both good and bad cards).


and also http://free3d.org

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    Nevertheless, I've had some horrible experiences with ATI's fglrx driver when trying to play games through Wine where NVIDIA would be less of a hassle. If you plan to use an ATI card for Wine-gaming, you should try and get some reports from users who actually use current-gen ATI cards.
    – bkzland
    Dec 27, 2011 at 9:06
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    By experience Nvidia cards are better supported than AMD/ATI. I had both and had suffered more with ATI than Nvidia (at the point to swear to not buy ATI for a Linux machine) Oct 6, 2012 at 15:21
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    @AntoineRodriguez you will have better success with both brands if you check hardware compatibility first. I know many who would say the same of nvidia ;)
    – Panther
    Oct 7, 2012 at 18:07
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    @bodhi.zazen compatibility list wasn't existing when I last purchased an ati card. and the "discontinue when it's more than 2Yrs old" politic will not help me to come back. Oct 8, 2012 at 18:36
  • Unfortunately, the AMD page was last updated 2011-07-23 --- hardly useful. Now that I know I could try to add my combo (switchable Intel/ATI 6400-7400 series, a PITA).
    – Rmano
    Jan 30, 2014 at 23:32

Any. Doesn't really matter!

But IMO I would go buy Nvidia as their drivers are more stable on both Windows and Linux as compared to ATI, but if you have a hackintosh compatible hardware and plan to build a hackintosh in future go for ATI.

If you dual boot with windows then ATI seems to be more budget friendly.

If you need help with Hackintosh compatible hardware have a look here see if its possible for you.

But if you ask me, I would go for NVIDIA any day as game developers support it the most.

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    and be sure to see to it that the new card meets ur power supply requirments Dec 26, 2011 at 22:31
  • That's good advice. @sarvesh-lad I imagine it is easy to get burned by that.
    – SMTF
    Dec 27, 2011 at 5:47
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    yeah it is many people who upgrade after 3-4 years to current gen cards have had the BSOD cause their power supply wasnt enough Dec 28, 2011 at 4:11

One way to check compatibility of a given graphics card with Ubuntu is to check Ubuntu's officially certified Component catalog.

From the website:

Canonical and hardware providers certify systems containing the components below.

There you can, for example, search for "5870" (if you're interested in checking compatibility of AMD Radeon HD5870). This specific search will yield No results found., meaning that there is no officially certified hardware containing this card.

If however you're searching for "5450" (for AMD Radeon HD 5450), then you will find Park [Mobility Radeon HD 5430/5450/5470] and a list of laptops containing this component. Unfortunately this is not a definitive blessing for the given hardware component, but it still comes as close as it gets to official certification (some strings are attached). At the very least, it means that it is known to work with Ubuntu.

In addition, you may go to Ubuntu Certification Programme at Launchpad to check if there were reports with issues for the component/laptop that you're interested in.

Lastly, you may also have a list of certified laptops by accessing the Ubuntu Desktop certified hardware.

From the website:

Ubuntu Certified hardware

Ubuntu Certified hardware has passed our extensive testing and review process to make sure Ubuntu runs well out of the box and it is ready for your business. We work closely with OEMs to jointly make Ubuntu available on a wide range of devices.

From that list you can check the graphics cards of supported laptops.


Stay away from AMD for now.

Something to keep in mind that may disuade you from using an AMD/ATI GPU with Ubuntu:

As of Ubuntu 16.04 (the latest release as of this writing), the AMD Catalyst driver (fglrx) is no longer supported or available. To be clear, the fglrx driver is now deprecated in 16.04 and you are forced to use an alternative open source driver. Without the fglrx driver, your video experience will most likely be vastly inferior to what you might expect.


Having RX 560 on Ubuntu 16.04 with default Ubuntu driver (not amdpro driver). I feel lower lag when typing text (like in good old DOS days). Comparing to NVIDIA GTX 1060, GTX 1030 and Intel HD - AMD rocks in this case.

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